|Marketing relationship B2B||Products Fruit preparations, fruit juice concentrates, not-from-concentrate juices, fruit wines, natural flavours and beverage bases||Raw materials processed Fruits (leading raw material for fruit preparations: strawberry; raw materials for fruit juice concentrates: apples and berries)|
|Key markets Marketed worldwide||Customers Dairy, ice-cream, bakery, food service and beverage industries||Special strengths Custom-designed, innovative products|
Fruit segment revenue in 2018|19 was € 1,179.1 million, or slightly above the year-earlier level (by 1.5%). In fruit preparations, revenue stagnated despite higher sales volumes; the reason lay mainly in negative currency translation effects, particularly in Argentina, Turkey, Russia, Mexico and the USA. In the fruit juice concentrate business, revenue rose as a result of the high apple juice concentrate prices for product from the 2017 crop. The Fruit segment was responsible for 48.3% of Group revenue (prior year: 45.3%).
EBIT reached a new high of € 77.3 million, rising by 2.2% from the prior year. While the fruit preparations business experienced a mainly currency-related deterioration in earnings (as numerous local currencies weakened against the euro, in some cases sharply), EBIT in the fruit juice concentrate activities grew very significantly. This was due especially to improved contribution margins of apple juice concentrate produced from the 2017 harvest, and also, secondarily, to a continued good performance in beverage bases.
As estimated by Euromonitor, the global market for spoonable flavoured yoghurts (which is relevant to the fruit preparations business) is to grow at an average annual rate of 1.1% to 2023. The markets in the Western Europe and North America regions are predicted to stagnate, while positive sales volume trends are seen in Asia-Pacific, at estimated average annual growth of 5% to 2023, and in the Middle East and Africa at 4.1% per year to 2023. Globally, the category of drinkable yoghurts is projected to have significantly higher average annual growth of 6.0% over the same period. Besides the fruit yoghurt market, the bakery and ice-cream sectors are significant to the diversification of the fruit preparations activities. In baked goods, the product group of biscuits, snack bars and fruit snacks is particularly relevant. It is forecast to grow at a moderate rate globally, averaging 1.8% per year to 2023. The ice-cream market too is to grow globally by 1.8% p.a. over the same time span. In the Middle East and Africa, the ice-cream market is predicted to grow at an above-average rate of 5.2% p.a. to 2023.
Current consumer trends for all of the above product categories are naturalness, sustainability, health, pleasure and convenience. Within the megatrend of naturalness, the main driver is the popularity of clean label products – foods and beverages without certain additives, such as dyes, preservatives or aromas. Sustainability has long been an important issue for industry. The focus here is currently on the avoidance of food waste and the issue of recycling management. Under the health trend, more and more consumers seek out natural plant ingredients to maintain health and wellness, and growing numbers of products containing herbs, spices or blossom ingredients are appearing on the market. In parallel with these trends oriented towards mindful consumption, the pleasure principle is also writ large: Food becomes a feast for the senses – vivid colours, interesting textures, new flavours – everything to surprise today’s adventurous consumer with novel experiences. Rounding out the consumer trends is the theme of convenience: In daily life, many consumers no longer take the time for the traditional three meals a day, often substituting small snacks for meals.
The concentrate business remains marked by the trends both towards lower fruit content in beverages and towards not-from-concentrate 100% juices. As a consequence, there is growing demand for beverage bases with a reduced fruit juice content. AUSTRIA JUICE addresses this trend with its strategic emphasis on the increased production of beverage bases and aromas. Sales of apple juice concentrate for the production of cider remain stable and cider consumption is growing globally.
In Europe the above-average apple crop in 2018, especially a record harvest in Poland, led to a significant reduction in the prices of apples and apple juice concentrate compared to the previous year (2017). The low European prices coupled with reduced production volumes from China created a good sales opportunity for European product in the USA. The strong outflow of European apple juice concentrate to the USA, combined with steady demand from European consumers, pushed up prices in the course of the harvest.
Apple juice concentrate from China showed a slightly rising price trend compared to the prior year and was thus not competitive in Europe and the USA.
For all fruits used in berry juice concentrates, larger crops were harvested than in the year before. As a result, the market was characterised by price reductions during the campaign.
The fruit preparations business processed about 375,000 tonnes of raw materials in 2018|19, an increase of 4% year-on-year. Raw material prices overall were below the year-earlier level, with raspberry, cherry, blackberry and tropical fruit coming down in price while strawberry and blueberry prices rose.
As in the previous years, strawberry was the principal fruit for fruit preparations, with a processed volume of approximately 65,500 tonnes. The main strawberry procurement markets for Europe and Eastern Europe are Spain, the Maghreb (i.e., Northern Africa bordering the Mediterranean) and Poland. Strawberry for the USA is sourced primarily from Mexico – predominantly from AGRANA’s own production of frozen fruit – but also from Egypt and Morocco. China, Korea and Australia are supplied largely with Chinese product. In order to supply the new plant in China, a project was launched three years ago southwest of Shanghai to grow new, improved varieties of strawberry and thus meet the demand for better texture and higher competitiveness of the raw material. AGRANA Fruit aims to establish greenfield projects with strategic partners in completely new crop production regions such as West Africa in order to minimise procurement risk.
On balance across all procurement markets, strawberry prices increased by about 7% in 2018|19, led by the continental growing regions such as Poland and with smaller increases in Morocco and Egypt.
The second most important fruit by processing volume was peach, at around 17,200 tonnes. Greece and Spain are the top procurement markets, followed by China. The harvests in Europe were favourable and prices stable relative to the prior year.
In the fruit juice concentrate business, available supplies of apples in the foremost European processing regions (Poland and Hungary) were significantly above levels of the year before. The Chinese apple crop was considerably reduced by spring frost; the concentrate production volume in China was thus less than in the prior year and below expectations.
The berry processing season for concentrate production was on the whole marked by good available volumes of the principal fruits. The prices for the most important fruit categories (strawberry, sour cherry and black currant) were below those of the prior year.
The capital expenditure of € 56.2 million in the Fruit segment in 2018|19 (prior year: € 49.4 million) represented capacity expansion and plant modernisation projects, among others. It encompassed various projects across all 43 production sites, prominent examples being the construction of the second fruit preparations plant in China and the addition of a carrot juice concentrate production line in Hungary.